Dear participants and guests of the Forum,
In this historic year which will be remembered as a year when Montenegro achieved one of its main foreign policy goals, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the 7th To Be Secure Forum, which serves as a platform for exchanging opinions on complex regional, but also global security and integration issues. I am happy that the Forum has gained its place in the calendar of prestigious security conferences in South East Europe and I am confident that this year's topics, as well as the repute and expertise of the participants will give significant contribution to finding ways to respond to modern challenges.
By joining NATO, which is expected at the beginning of next month, Montenegro will reach the end of the decade long process of Euro-Atlantic integration. After the Protocol on Montenegro’s Accession to NATO was signed by member states in Brussels on May 19th 2016, I am extremely pleased to point out that the Protocol ratification process in member states will terminate in less than a year, which is another confirmation of how highly allies appreciate the reforms implemented in Montenegro, as well as a confirmation of trust. This dynamics gains significantly in importance when we take into consideration that this was accomplished in extremely complicated international conditions and in the time of important elections and referendums within the Euro-Atlantic community. Following that dynamics, at the very end of the process, at a session held on April 28th in Cetinje, the Parliament of Montenegro decided for Montenegro to enter the Euro-Atlantic family and adopted the Draft Law on the Ratification of the North Atlantic Treaty. This will allow Montenegro to participate at the NATO Summit on May 25th as a full-fledged member, which will mark the beginning of cooperation on new, more responsible bases, with, now officially, its allies.
There is no doubt that the full-fledged membership of Montenegro in the Alliance will represent a significant encouragement to the process of its European Integration as well. While marking five years after opening the accession negotiations with the EU, with 26 open Chapters and great expectations to open two more in June, Montenegro is slowly entering the final but a more demanding stage of integration. I believe that a successful continuation of the Berlin process will add value, but also content, to the existing mechanisms in the process of European Integration of the Western Balkans, thus contributing to better economic and infrastructural relations between these countries.
In the period ahead of us, as a NATO member state and a forefront in the process of European Integration, Montenegro will continue, even more responsibly, to contribute to further enhancing cooperation in the region, by numerous regional incentives, among which the US-Adriatic Charter has an important role. Members of the Army of Montenegro in the mission “Resolute Support” in Afghanistan give individual, as well as collective contribution. We are confident that the new initiative Trilateral will result in projects of interest to the Adriatic.
I wish you a successful work and a pleasant stay in Budva and in Montenegro.
Prof. Dr. Srđan Darmanović
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro